Don’t Forget to Strengthen Your Feet! Wait, What?
Running injuries and strength training exercises for runners are easily two of the topics I talk about most on this website.
Well, with running injuries it’s what I know the most about and where my real expertise in the running world lies. I may never be the worlds greatest runner or running coach, but if you got a problem, (Yo!) I’ll solve it! (Get it?)
Or at least, I’ll help you solve it.
And strength training gets talked about a fair amount because I think it’s important and I think it can do wonders to help many of the most common running injuries.
But in all of my strength training videos, at least until now, I’ve never mentioned some of the most important exercises you can do to specifically target one of the most overlooked (and thus, most problematic) areas on a runner: the feet.
Yes, You Have Muscles in Your Feet
And yes, you need to target them for strengthening from time to time.
Why should you strengthen your feet?
Good question, glad you asked.
Week foot musculature can definitely be a contributing factor to both plantar fasciitis AND shin splints.
Can you hear me now? Good!
So if you seem to always be dealing with shin splints and/or plantar fasciitis, today’s video is for you.
And if you’ve never had a problem, and would like to keep it that way, today’s video is for you.
The Best Ways to Strengthen Your Feet Are…
Ok, maybe that’s not the answer you looking for right there, but we will get to the exercises in just a minute.
Every time I talk about strength training for runners, I always try to point out that we don’t need to spend lots of time in the gym to build the muscle strength and endurance that will benefit us most.
And when it comes to the best ways to strengthen your feet, the same logic applies.
All of these exercises can be done at home, with no equipment (save for a few small items you’ve got laying around the house somewhere).
Ready to build up the strength in your feet and dramatically decrease your risk of developing shin splints or plantar fasciitis? I thought so.
- Single Leg Balance: Working on your balance may be the last thing you expected, but it really is a good exercise for you feet. Standing on one foot (without shoes) forces all of those little muscles in your feet and around your ankles to do fire in order to keep you stable. If you watch closely in the video, you’ll see my muscles firing virtually non-stop while I’m balancing. Once this gets too easy, up the difficulty level by standing on a pillow or closing your eyes.
- Heel/Toe Walks: Walking on just the heels or just the balls of your feet forces your muscles to work in ways they aren’t used to working. That causes them to get stronger and provide more support when you are walking normally as well. Win-win.
- Toe Pick Ups: As I said in the video, this is probably my favorite exercise on the list for today. Picking up marbles, dice, or any other small items with your feet is a great way to strengthen the muscles on the bottoms of your feet.
- Towel Grabs: This exercise works very similarly to the toe pick ups, but instead of picking up an item you’re grabbing a towel with your toes and curling your foot in to scrunch the towel. That might sound awkward, but watch the video and it’ll make more sense.
Do It Already
You don’t need to do these exercises daily, but you really should make them a fairly regular part of your routine–especially if you feel like you’re dealing with either plantar fasciitis or shin splints too often.
(And to be clear, dealing with either of those problems more than once is too often.)
If you want to continue running pain free for years to come, doing routine maintenance is a must.
And making it a point to strengthen your feet needs to become part of your regular maintenance routine started today.
Who knew strengthening your foot muscles was so important for runners? #runchat #running Click To Tweet
I never thought much about my feet until I started running. I am definitely more in tune to them now and willing to try all these exercises. I think I do a variation on the standing on one foot exercise when I do single-leg dead-lifts on Monday and Thursday of each week. When I try the walking on heels and toes, how many seconds/minutes at a time should I do it? Same with the picking up small objects and the towel pull exercise, how long should I spend on those two things?
There’s no set amount of time. For the heel/toe walks, I say 15-20 steps of each maybe? A couple of minutes on the other two? It’s not science, just play them and add on slightly as they go.
Ok. Good. The less I have to be scientific about the better!!
I had a friend who did the towel scrunching in physical therapy after foot surgery and I remembered thinking at the time it was probably a great way to toughen up feet! She hated it, but it has definitely helped her running game after healing from the surgery. Great post!
Thanks Jen! Towel scrunches are tough, but they definitely work!